Aberfeldie Bowls Club-a not so brief history
The club began life in 1910 as the Aberfeldie Bowling, Croquet and Tennis Club when a group of 23 citizens, with aid from local dignitaries, subscribed to purchase land in Scott St to build greens and a club house. Opened in 1911, the bowls team scored a victory in its first match.
A ladies’ croquet green was opened in 1912. Always a ‘poor sister’ to the male dominated bowls, it struggled through to its eventual closure in 1969. Even with bowls, the ladies emerged from catering duties only in the 1950s and attained full equality on the green with passage of drastic new RVBA bylaws in 2000 (Aberfeldie Club had been champing at the bit to do this). Tennis never eventuated.
Membership numbers grew from 75 in 1912, with ups and downs along the way especially during the Great Wars and the 1930s depression, to peak at 300 in the 1960s, after which major changes in social life and many new competing past-times brought about a steady decline to around 100 by 1990 onwards.
The social strength of the club – which endures as a hallmark to the present day – emerged in the years following WWI when winter indoor gatherings enjoyed musical evenings, dances, smoke nights and ever-popular billiards (which sometimes challenged bowls as the Club’s main concern). Electricity came early to ABC, replacing gas lighting in 1923; the first night game under electric lights followed in 1924. The club installed an automatic telephone in 1925. During the hard times of the Great Depression and through World War II the club was sustained by the generosity of a long-serving industrialist president who poured his energy and money into all aspects: building repairs, greens maintenance and funded/hosted a busy social agenda.
Boom times after WWII brought lavish food at functions, smart trophies, a refrigerator, club room heating, bingo and television evenings, and a liquor licence by 1970. But the good times meant dwindling membership and inadequate funds for maintenance, so in 1999 the northern green was sold for housing to replenish coffers and fund a complete rebuild and upgrade of the club house which reopened in 2003.
The millennium drought caused severe stress to the green and its keeper, and the water bill skyrocketed. In 2008 the club was able to open a new synthetic green which is named after one of its long time members Forbes T. Wright. A side benefit has been year-round playing with a much fuller social calendar.
To mark its centenary year in 2010 the club introduced new colourful uniforms, installed a brass plaque and a commemorative flag (both made by members), issued medallions, and a big celebration function brought visitors from our sister club Aberfeldy in Scotland.
Since then, ABC continues to uphold the century-old aspirations: an autonomous and vibrant club sporting competent teams, a friendly coherent social club, and top quality green and facilities.
-Compiled by John Ritter